MAT From the Front Lines 1: Local 88 Superhero, Tory

Q. Local 88 man, can you tell us what you do during the day when you aren’t busy being the L88 Superhero?

A. Well, I hesitate to give up my secret identity, but for the good of the union I can finally reveal that I am Tory Mitchell, Finance Specialist II, working in Payroll in DCM. One very important thing about my current position: in February of 2009 I was told that my non-represented position was being eliminated.  I was devastated.  How relieved I was when I found out that I could rely on my Union seniority I accrued in previous, represented positions, to get me a Union job!  I was so happy, and very grateful!

Q. How did you first get involved in MAT? Have the national attacks on public employees been a motivator to help engage you more this year than in past negotiations?

A. I was invited to attend a MAT meeting at AFSCME HQ on Burnside, I realized it was time to get out of my comfort zone, and start giving back to the union. So I simply went to the meeting, where I was very cordially received. Nobody forced me to do anything, nobody coerced me to do anything. Let me put it this way Rachel – current events in the Midwest and elsewhere have made me put on a cape. Yes, I am much more involved in this year than in other years. I think we are all really getting a wake-up call about the importance of unions and collective bargaining, given that union rights are coming so much under attack.  Allow me to be clear – unions did not create the current economic turmoil, and unions should not be expected to bear the full brunt of fixing them

Q. You were a big hit at our bargaining kick-off rally as the Local 88 Superhero – what has been your favorite MAT activity so far?

A. One thing I enjoyed doing was making phone-calls for the union to announce the rally. Again, I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that our union staff had already done all the hard work, such as scrubbing the phone lists. Union members who want to get involved can be assured that the MAT exists to help us volunteer, and to make it easy to get involved. You don’t make it awful to get involved! The phone bank was a blast, I had fun. I like doing that kind of stuff.

Q. What does “winning” on this fair contract campaign mean to you? What is victory for the Member Action Team?

A. I think a strong contract for the next term definitely, realizing that the next term extends through 2016. It’s important that we understand that the decisions we make now are going to effect our union several years down the road. The biggest win the MAT can have however will be to create a stronger infrastructure and legacy of union activists and volunteers, and helping members get involved. The MAT is the glue that connects members with their bargaining team. It is a link that has been missing up until now.

Q. From the perspective of a superhero, what can we all do to save jobs and win a fair contract?

A. I think first it’s most important to recognize how much unions are under attack, and understand how much unions have done for the American worker. When you realize that, you will get involved. Everybody can make a difference. From going to rallies, to doing a phone bank, to putting an AFSCME balloon up in your cubicle and letting your managers and coworkers know we care. Rachel, for me, there were two big turning points – one was the union saving my employment with the county. Second, it was the current state of our economy and the need for all of us to all get involved, and be certain the unions don’t bear the brunt of problems they didn’t create. I can not emphasize enough [Local 88 Superhero slammed his fist into the other hand] that the MAT, and that means Member Action Team, is there to answer any questions you have about you can get involved with your union.

Q. Do we all have to be superheros to get involved? Or do we all simply become superheros after we do get involved?

A. Rachel, I think you know the answer to that question 🙂